Congo Bars.

by Andie Mitchell on June 8, 2010

I’m wary of superlatives. Skeptical when it comes to suffixes of the -est variety. I’m bashful with “best,” moderate with “most.” Even in my high school yearbook, I felt uneasy seeing my face next to the phrase, “Most Likely To Brighten Your Day.” I walked the halls for the last weeks of senior year wondering if I could possibly have made one person’s day sunnier. Doubtful.

But sometimes, just sometimes, when the moment is right and the conditions are just so, I’ll utter a statement so bold that I’m willing to back it with my whole bankroll. That’s right, two looming stacks of nickels. The last $50 to my name.

Today, my friends, is one of those times. I hope you’re seated. I’m going to tell you something that I’ve come to believe in as fully as the divine right of peanut butter to marry fluff. A conviction of sorts.

These are the best cookies I’ve ever tasted. There. I know, that was quite frightening. I’m terrified of words like “never,” phrases ending in “ever,” and all things set in stone. But when it comes to these chewy squares, I’m brazen.

Congo bars. Thick, buttery squares of ultra-chewy brown sugar dough studded with rich white chocolate, threaded with flaked coconut, and smoky toasted pecans. One bite is a melting, gritty mouthful of luscious flavor and varied texture.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I’m a baker at heart. Don’t let the blogtitle fool you. I cook; I make dinner every night; but I’m nothing without my beloved butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. Lost without chocolate. This recipe is the one that I’m begged to bake over and over again. Family, friends, friends of friends, friends of my aunt’s neighbor’s dog’s breeder, you name it, come calling for a 13×9 of these rich treats. “You sure you don’t want me to bake a sour cream fudge cake filled with vanilla buttercream and glazed with chocolate ganache?”…”Yup. Just bring the bars.”

If you didn’t already believe in magic, these would convince you. It’s a wonder why Jehovah’s witnesses don’t tote these door to door. Everyone would convert.

Congo Bars, recipe from Cooks Illustrated- my favorite cooking and baking website

  • 1 cup pecans (or walnuts), toasted and chopped
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened shredded coconut ( I use sweetened)
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 TBSP unsalted butter (1.5 sticks), melted and cooled
  • 1.5 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract ( I know, it’s a lot)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°. Spread nuts on a larged rimmed baking sheet and bake until deep golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer nuts to cutting board to cool; chop coarsely and set aside. The recipe also directs you to toast the coconut on same rimmed baking sheet, stirring 2 to 3 times, until light golden, about 5 to 7 minutes, but note: I do not toast the coconut.

Fit two pieces of aluminum foil into a 13 by 9″ baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges.

Spritz evenly with nonstick cooking spray. NOTE: It’s important to line the pan with foil because you want to be able to remove the bars from the pan by simply lifting the foil overhang on both sides. Then, you can peel down the foil and slice them perfectly.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk melted butter and brown sugar together in medium bowl until combined.

Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Using rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture until just combined; do not overmix.

Fold in chocolate, coconut, and nuts. NOTE: I like to toss the three add-ins together in a bowl before adding them to the batter so that I can ensure an even dispersal.

Turn batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with rubber spatula.

Bake until top is shiny, cracked, and light golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes; do not overbake. Cool on wire rack to room temperature. Remove bars from pan by lifting foil overhang and transfer to cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole June 8, 2010 at 6:04 am

Why — oh why — does my hubby have to be allergic to nuts? I totally want to make this recipe! Maybe I will and then have all my gal friends over for a girl’s night. Lol. Any excuse just so I can make these


Lindsay June 8, 2010 at 6:38 am

A coworker of mine makes congo bars for pot lucks. I feel terrible saying this, but yours look so much better than hers! ;)


Sophie @ yumventures June 8, 2010 at 6:49 am

Wow, the best cookies ever?! You just make me laugh. I am the opposite, and declare that each meal is “the best one ever!” until the next plate of food sits in front of me and I think this must, without a doubt, ACTUALLY be the best meal ever. These do, though, look delicious. I will have to try them!


Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman June 8, 2010 at 6:50 am

Yikes, these look awesome. Maybe it’s the coconut. Or the white chocolate. Or, I’m sure, the butter. Either way, I can understand why you say they’re the best even without tasting them. These would be deadly in my house.


Anne Marie@New Weigh of Life June 8, 2010 at 7:29 am

They look divine!!


homecookedem June 8, 2010 at 8:05 am

I want those right now!!!!!!!! They look so amazing, so heavenly!!


Lu June 8, 2010 at 8:24 am

My son is allergic to nuts, but I’m omitting the pecans and baking up a batch of these. They look amazing. Chewy, melty, divine.


Madeline - Greens and Jeans June 8, 2010 at 8:35 am

I want those for breakfast. The pictures are making me drool over here!


Kelly June 8, 2010 at 8:53 am

They LOOK fantastic, sadly I am not a fan of coconut or any kind of nuts :(


Megan June 8, 2010 at 8:54 am

Mmmm those congo bars look AMAZING!!! I’m definitely going to be making those soon!


Amy @ Second City Randomness June 8, 2010 at 9:16 am

You just put all my favorite things into a cookie. I heart you. :) I’m bookmarking this for the next time I’m having a craving for cookies….

And people always ask me to bring scotcheroos everywhere I go. It’s the simplest recipe ever, and not very elegant, but they disappear faster than anything I’ve ever seen…


malpaz June 8, 2010 at 9:52 am

haha my mama makes something close to this but she calls them monster bars… looks like an EXPENSIVE treat! ill stick to throwin some coconut on my fage!


Kelly June 8, 2010 at 9:57 am

Well those DO look pretty amazing!!! WOWEE!


Cindy June 8, 2010 at 10:01 am


I heard brown sugary dough, and butter and coconut…and oh my

I think this weekend’s treat is going to be these!

guess I’d better get another mile on the treadmill in over the week!



foodiefresh June 8, 2010 at 10:16 am

Those look divine! My mouth is watering.


Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday June 8, 2010 at 10:34 am

Wow, judging by the rave review I’m going to have to make these. …on a day I can muster up the courage to bake with so much butter :S


Shanna, like Banana June 8, 2010 at 11:11 am

Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard keys ;) These are going to the top of the baking list..stat!


DiningAndDishing June 8, 2010 at 11:18 am

i believe you have outdone yourself again!! you need to open a bakery. and in that case, can you give your already amazing job to me?? haha :)

- Beth @


theprocessofhealing June 8, 2010 at 11:32 am

Oh wow… you’ve just convinced me.


Brittany June 8, 2010 at 11:47 am

Oh dear, those look good!


Carolyn @ June 8, 2010 at 11:51 am

Might have to try those, though I think I might swap out the white chocolate for some dark chocolate and mint chips I have.


Maya (Maya's Place) June 8, 2010 at 12:38 pm

I shouldn’t be looking at your blog at all, it just makes me want to eat those yummie bars right now. (Just kidding, will keep returning. :-)) I love coconut and nuts and white chocolate. I’m not a big baker though (yet), mainly because if I bake, I want to eat all of it myself. Might have to work on that… The bars are mouth-watering!


Justin June 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Gripping blog post. I want some!


Can You Stay for Dinner June 8, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Aw thanks, J! I’ve got some with your name on ‘em!


cardiopizza June 8, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Those sound fantastic…I must try them soon since they are the best! :)


Leah @ Why Deprive? June 8, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Oh my goodness. I want these. Now.


fitandfortysomething June 8, 2010 at 3:33 pm

i have never heard of congo bars-they look delicious!


Devaki June 8, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Dear Andrea – I consider you the reigning Queen of Cookie World so for you to say the best cookies ever? ‘Nuf said!

I HAVE to make these soon for the kids and will keep you posted :)

Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors


livelifeeatright June 8, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Those bars make me happy…kind of in that way that make me want to dance. I was glad that I was seated for this post because those indeed look like “The Best Cookies Ever”!!! I think I need to make them now.


Lauren @ Health on the Run June 8, 2010 at 11:04 pm

I love congo bars! And these look heavenly!!! Oh my gosh… I can’t wait to bake them. I’m actually visiting the fam right now, and I know what I’m going to be making for dessert tomorrow night. :) I’m sure they’ll be a huge hit! Thanks for sharing the recipe for the best cookies ever! :)


actorsdiet June 9, 2010 at 12:24 am

i have never heard of or had a congo bar before but just the NAME of it sounds like something insanely delicious. why? i have no idea! who thinks “yummy” when they hear the word “congo?” but pair it with “bar” and i start salivating….


Kate June 9, 2010 at 2:13 pm

I just made these with the toasted pecans and instead of white chocolate chips, I used butterscotch ones. The aroma in my house is deadly intoxicating! Must.stay.away. from the pan!


Can You Stay for Dinner June 9, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Kate, I’m so so happy you gave them a shot. You won’t regret it!! I bet the butterscotch is OUTRAGEOUS!!


sara February 10, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Whyyyyyy am I reading your blog in the late afternoon, when I really want a sugary bake-edy treat, but I’m stuck at desk, which is far, far away from my oven?? { pouting. }


seeingthelove March 12, 2011 at 6:24 am

Just popped some out of the oven, and immediately took a taste (after letting it cool a bit of course). The verdict: it is good!


Robin Heike July 28, 2013 at 8:41 am

I made these using unsweetened coconut and used milk chocolate chips and walnuts as that is what I had on hand. They were delicious. We brought them to someone’s house for dessert, thank goodness or we would not have been able to stop eating them.


Big fan May 16, 2014 at 10:42 pm

I made these and brought them in to work and they were a huge hit!! They were super yummy and I had to share the recipe with a couple people :]


PJ August 13, 2014 at 11:27 pm

If you bake with as much panache as you express yourself in writing, these will ROCK! I just quoted your description over the phone to my husband…’re hilarious and I BELIEVE you for sure!!


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